From the unseen lives of strippers in the US, to the HBO series starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant, The Undoing, to the latest season of Famalam, to the boxset of The Loudest Voice and the Elisabeth Moss thriller The Invisible Man, the Showmax line-up this month is chockablock with delicious binge-watch material to see you through the penultimate month of 2020.
Here are our highlights, followed by the listing by date.
P-Valley S1 | Tuesdays from 24 November at 22:30, same day as 1Magic
P-Valley follows the lives of the people who work at a strip club called The Pynk in the fictional city of Chucalissa, Mississippi.
As Rotten Tomatoes’ 100% critics consensus says, “A stunning, lyrical piece of neon noir, P-Valley explores the unseen lives of strippers in Mississippi through Katori Hall’s singular gaze, celebrating the beauty of the craft without sugarcoating the challenges.”
Indiewire hailed it as “unlike anything ever seen on TV… the series knows exactly what it wants to be: a sexy, fast-paced drama that sets out to de-stigmatize the world of stripping and shatter misconceptions.”
Welcome to the Dirty South.
Chasing the Sun | Binge from 1 November
From a sport defined by its past, and a country defined by its differences, comes the story of a team that chose to believe in something more…
This five-part docu-series tracks the Springbok’s rise from the ashes to the unforgettable moment when captain Siya Kolisi raised the Webb Ellis Cup at the Rugby World Cup final in Tokyo last year.
SuperSport was granted unprecedented access to the Springboks both in the build-up to and during the tournament, which helped produce incredible behind-the-scenes footage that goes to the heart of what it took to defy the odds and reclaim World Cup glory.
Hillary | Binge from 1 November
Nominated for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series at the 2020 Emmys, this in-depth docu-series shines a spotlight on one of the most polarising political figures of our time: Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The four-part series, directed by Oscar nominee Nanette Burstein (On The Ropes), tracks Hillary’s life from childhood to the 2016 presidential campaign and beyond, drawing on thousands of hours of footage and extensive interviews with Clinton herself, as well as her family, friends, journalists and even former US President Barack Obama.
Hillary holds an 80% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes. “It’s difficult to think of any film that speaks to our moment as strikingly as this documentary does,” says The Wall Street Journal, while The Times UK calls it an “astounding and audacious political documentary”.
Famalam S3 | First on Showmax | Binge from 1 November
The BBC’s hilarious comedy sketch show Famalam is back for its third season. Learn how to make White People Chicken, see our favourite aunties handle their nephew coming out, and discover Nollywood’s “finest”. We’ll also get to check out Idris Elba’s skill set (Idris Elba can do anything!), and watch the rudest Midsomer Murders ever.
The Independent (UK) calls it, “a sublime achievement of satire,” saying, “Like all the best sketch shows, Famalam is a mix of comforting recurring characters and scenes, but tweaked with a delightful and clever wit on every outing.”
The Loudest Voice | Binge from 1 November
Oscar winner Russell Crowe (A Beautiful Mind, Gladiator) won a 2020 Golden Globe for his transformative performance as disgraced Fox News head Roger Ailes in this biographical mini-series, which was also nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Television Limited Series.
Time Magazine calls it “an elegant mix of character study, workplace drama and political thriller,” while Indiewire says it’s “a compelling, even artful, historical horror show out to remind viewers how news and politics were manipulated into the sorry state they’re in today.”
See the Roger Ailes story from another angle in Bombshell, the acclaimed movie starring John Lithgow as Ailes alongside Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman and Margot Robbie.
Das Boot S2 | Binge from 1 November | First on Showmax
A reboot of Wolfgang Petersen’s Oscar-nominated classic 1981 movie, this German WWII drama has an 85% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics’ consensus says, “Das Boot possesses the atmospheric pressure of its cinematic forebear while adding new depth to its compelling ensemble, making for a riveting international production.”
Or as The New Statesman put it, “Each episode is like a shot of something very illegal to my arm.”
New Amsterdam S2 | Binge from 1 November
Based on Eric Manheimeris’s book Twelve Patients: Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital, this moreish medical drama centres on Dr Max Goodwin (Ryan Eggold from 90210 and The Blacklist), the new director at America’s oldest public hospital, New Amsterdam, who sets out to put saving lives above the bottom line, and breathe new life into this underfunded and underappreciated hospital.
But Max has had his own demons to battle, with a cancer diagnosis putting early strain on both his professional and personal life. Then tragedy struck at the end of Season 1, with a horrific accident just moments after the birth of Max and Georgia’s daughter. Not everyone survived, and in this season Max will have to pick up the pieces.
New Amsterdam has been renewed for a further three seasons, so there’s lots more to come.
His Dark Materials S2 | First on Showmax | Tuesdays from 17 November
In this adaptation of Philip Pullman’s classic fantasy novels, Lyra’s search for a kidnapped friend uncovers a sinister plot involving stolen children and sets off a quest to understand a mysterious phenomenon called Dust.
Season two begins after Lord Asriel has opened a bridge to a new world. There, in a strange and mysterious abandoned city, Lyra meets Will, a boy from our world who is also running from a troubled past. Lyra and Will learn their destinies are tied to reuniting Will with his father but find their path is constantly thwarted as a war begins to brew around them. Meanwhile, Mrs Coulter searches for Lyra, determined to bring her home by any means necessary.
The epic fantasy’s cast includes child stars Dafne Keen (Logan) and Amir Wilson as Lyra and Will, supported by Golden Globe winner Ruth Wilson (The Affair, Luther) and Oscar nominee Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton). His Dark Materials has an 80% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with Slate calling it “Proof that TV is now the best medium for bringing epic literary fantasy to the screen.”
The Undoing S1 | Mondays at 22:30 from 30 November, Same day as M-Net
This six-part mini-series stars Oscar winner Nicole Kidman (Big Little Lies) as therapist Grace Fraser, whose idyllic existence is shattered by a violent death and a very public scandal. With her husband Jonathan (Hugh Grant) missing, Grace must face a chain of terrible revelations and try to build a new life for herself and her son.
Based on the book You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz, The Undoing is created by multiple-Emmy winner David E Kelley, the man behind Big Little Lies, Picket Fences and all your favourite legal dramas, from L.A. Law to Ally McBeal, The Practice to Boston Legal, and directed by Emmy winner Susanne Bier (The Night Manager, In A Better World).
The Invisible Man | First on Showmax | 20 November
Golden Globe winner Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale, Us) stars in this nail-biting horror-mystery, the tenth highest-grossing film of 2020 so far.
When Cecilia’s abusive ex takes his own life and leaves her his fortune, she suspects his death was a hoax. As a series of coincidences turn lethal, Cecilia works to prove that she is being hunted by someone nobody can see.
The Invisible Man has a 91% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with Rolling Stone saying, “Alive with fresh thinking from Whanell and a dynamite Elisabeth Moss, this socially conscious horrorshow tips the old monster mash into way scarier sh*t about toxic masculinity that’s as timely as #MeToo and Harvey Weinstein in handcuffs.”
Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral | 9 November
The 10th and final instalment of the Madea film series builds on the winning formula Tyler Perry fans love, with a joyous family reunion that turns into a hilarious nightmare as Madea and the crew travel to backwoods Georgia, where they find themselves unexpectedly planning a funeral that might reveal some unsavoury family secrets.
Emmy winner and BET Ultimate Icon Tyler Perry once again stars in several roles (including Madea of course), along with franchise stalwarts Patrice Lovely and Cassi Davis. Also look out for the legendary Mike Tyson himself.
Despite seven Razzies, and a 12% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie opened at #1 in the US, and was #34 at the SA box office last year. Common Sense Media recommends it for ages 13+, summing up Madea’s swan song as a “winning but dirty slapstick comedy”.
Hustlers | 12 November
Inspired by a true story and the viral New York Magazine article it sparked, Hustlers centres on a crew of savvy former strip club employees who band together to turn the tables on their Wall Street clients.
Golden Globe nominees Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu (Crazy Rich Asians) lead an all-star cast that includes Julia Stiles (10 Things I Hate About You) and Keke Palmer, with scene-stealing cameos from Grammy winners Lizzo and Cardi B.
Hustlers made Time Magazine, HuffPost, and NPR’s lists of the best films of 2019, among others, and Lopez was nominated for a 2020 Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress for the role.
Hustlers has an 87% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with Slate calling it “a pretty much perfect film… an immediate entrant into the pantheon of female friendship movies…. you can feel its heartbeat”; RogerEbert “Goodfellas in a G-string”; and Independent (UK) “a lean, fierce take on the nature of female empowerment in an inherently corrupted world.”
The Old Man and the Gun | 12 November
The Old Man and the Gun has a 93% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics’ consensus hails it as, “A well-told story brought to life by a beautifully matched cast… pure, easygoing entertainment for film fans – and a fitting farewell to a legend.”
That legend, of course, is Oscar winner Robert Redford as Forrest Tucker, whose audacious real-life escape from San Quentin at the age of 70 led to an unprecedented string of heists that confounded the authorities and enchanted the public.
Redford was nominated for a 2019 Golden Globe for his performance, which The New Yorker calls “a glorious, sly performance in a gloriously sly movie that masks its idiosyncrasy in brisk and breezy storytelling.”
As Time Out says, “The Old Man & the Gun is a throwback to an era when making beautifully understated crime comedies was the peak of Hollywood’s ambition.”
Like a Boss | 30 November
Emmy winner Tiffany Haddish (Night School), Golden Globe nominee Rose Byrne (Bridesmaids), and Oscar nominee Salma Hayek (Frida) star in this hit comedy.
Mia (Haddish) and Mel (Byrne), two friends with very different ideals, start a cosmetics company together but soon find themselves in heaps of debt. When an industry titan (Hayek) swoops in to rescue their floundering business, it’s an offer they can’t refuse. But the beauty business is about to get ugly…
A New Country | 2 November
How did we get from the euphoria of 1994 to the fractured South Africa of today?
Through forthright interviews with informal workers, politicians, academics, and artists, director Sifiso Khanyile (Uprize) traces our journey as a country over the past three decades, and looks at the state of the Rainbow Nation today.
A New Country earned a Special Mention at this year’s Jozi Film Festival, where it also won Best Director.
Encounters called the documentary “heartbreakingly insightful”.
Three guesses what SA mega-alt-rock-band Fokofpolisiekar had to say to COVID-19’s plans to shut down their 17th birthday party celebrations this year, especially after 4000 people packed out their sweet 16th last year…
FPK fans can now catch the monster two-hour set from their Super Sick Seventeenth Livestream show, packed with the hits and the classics from their 17-year career, including songs they haven’t played in years and, of course, all the fan favourites.
Die Verhaal van Racheltjie de Beer | 5 November
South Africa’s wilderness in the 1800s: Five years after their mother died, Rachel, a girl on the cusp of adolescence, and five-year-old Jamie find themselves on their way to the gold fields with their father, Herman, to start a new life. But winter is closing in fast, and when Jamie goes missing in a freak snowstorm, Rachel must brave the deadly cold to search for her little brother.
The beloved heroine of this Afrikaans folktale is brought to life by Zonika de Vries, who won the Young Actress award for the role at last year’s Silwerskerm Festival. The film also took Best Actor (Stian Bam), Production Design and Visual Effects at the 2019 Silwerskermfees, with a further six nominations. It won Best Film at this year’s Rhode Island Film Festival and earned three Golden Horns – for Cinematography, Sound Design, and Original Score – at the 2020 SAFTAs.
Local comedy | Binge from 5 November
Showmax continues to strengthen its selection of top SA stand-up comedy shows, with new sets from Comics Choice winners like Loyiso Gola (State of the Nation) and Schalk Bezuidenhout (Volksbesit), as well as Naledi, Vita and Fleur du Cap winner Marc Lottering (Hashtag Lottering), and the king of Christian comedy, Napoleon Masinga, better known as The Napsta (My Dad Would Always Say). Also look out for The Live Series’ fourth National Comics Party.
The Ghost and the House of Truth | 12 November
Bola Ogun (BAFTA Breakthrough Brit winner Susan Wokoma from Enola Holmes) is a dedicated counsellor who facilitates reconciliation sessions between convicts and the victims of their crimes. But when her own daughter goes missing, her belief in forgiveness is tested.
The Ghost and the House of Truth is directed by SAFTA and Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Award-winning director Akin Omotoso (Tell Me Sweet Something), who also won the Africa Movie Academy Award (AMAA) for Best Director for Vaya.
Skeef | First on Showmax | 23 November
In this compelling documentary, TV presenter, radio host and producer Renaldo Schwarp looks at what it means to be gay in South Africa today, seen through the eyes of a diverse group of LGBTI+ locals.
Skeef is an honest and unflinching examination of queer identity, told through the day-to-day experiences and moving personal stories of people across the country, from comedian Marc Lottering to singer Joe Foster, Kanarie co-writer Charl-Johan Lingenfelder to Syrian refugee Adnan Al Mouselli, who was forced to flee his country because of his sexuality.
Inconceivable S1 | Binge from 27 November
How far will you go to protect what you have?
That’s the question in M-Net’s female-driven local drama series Inconceivable. The series tells the story of two women who’ve been best friends since high school. Now at the centre of a group of female friends – all in their mid-thirties, starting their own families and building their careers – they each have their secrets: a lingering affair, a struggle with infertility, an unthinkable act.
Inconceivable stars SAFTA nominee Anel Alexander (Binnelanders); SAFTA winner Carine Rous (Elke Skewe Pot); Scandal’s Palesa, Refilwe Madumo; stand-up comedian and talk show host Nina Hastie; and Jay Anstey (Isidingo).
Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader? S1 | Binge from 16 November
Round up the family and fire up your brain cells! There’s $1million up for grabs in this hit game show. All you have to do to win is be smarter than a 5th grader. But if the past 13 years since the show first aired have taught us anything, it’s that 5th graders are pretty damn smart. And even the most confident of grown-up boffins are often … not.
The latest US edition of the show sees host John Cena step into the ring with the hopefuls, who’ll be racking their brains for those elusive “elementary” answers. Fortunately, they’ll have a little help from a classmate of their choosing from the panel of “experts” – kids themselves.
What else is on?
Look out for our Plum Picks in bold.
- Beecham House S1
- Nashville S6
Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector S1 | Slow Burn S1 | Unprotected Sets S1 | Beyond the Pole S1 | Witches in the Wood | Abby Hatcher, Fuzzly Catcher! S1
Draft Day | Francois and Tasche | Pain & Gain | The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete | Wife Swap S13 | Francois van Coke: Stories Agter Die Tunes | Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood S4-S5A
Meet the Parents | Suburbicon
Date and Switch | Irrational Man | Maak My Famous S2 | The Lowdown with Thomas Gumede S1 | Unearthed | I’m a Creepy Crawly S1-3 | I’m a Fish S1-3 | Tiny Square Critters S1
Jan Braai Vir Erfenis S10 | Prisoners | Rainbow Skellums
Devil’s Knot | The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman | The To Do List | Twilight | Step In S6-7 | Pikkuli S1
- While We’re Young
Filth | Leef Jou Reis: Met Gerrie Pretorius S8 | On Safari S1 | Paradise Hills
- August Osage County
- Manchester by the Sea
Bunraku | | Stargate Origins: Catherine | Pins and Nettie S1
- Z for Zachariah
Escape Plan 3 | Final Score
Denial | Kill the Messenger | Truth
Don’t miss these gems from months gone by
Please note that dates and titles are subject to change.